Antigua and Barbuda’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr. Tumasie Blair, gave a sobering yet inspiring message to the members of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) during the opening of the Agency’s 26th Council meeting in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
As the Chairman of the intergovernmental organization, he reflected on his tenure and handed over the chairmanship to the United States.
IRENA unites over 150 countries with the goal of achieving a future where the transition to renewable energy is a primary consideration in their efforts to expand their economies and secure a sustainable future.
Mr. Blair praised the mobilized and urgent action that the agency took in accelerating the renewables-based energy transition for countries around the world, but also reminded the meeting of the crucial and urgent nature of their work, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like his own country of Antigua and Barbuda.
Mr. Blair shared that the climate crisis presents an existential threat, and a profound shift towards a renewables-based energy transition, as well as urgent and adequate financing of this mission, is critical.
He emphasized that SIDS have set ambitious energy targets in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), but most of these are conditional on external support from developed economies and the private sector.
Therefore, it is important for developed countries to provide technical support, transfer of renewable technology and concessional financing, including grant funding.
The goals of IRENA align with the ambitions of the fourth UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, which will be held in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27 – 30 next year under the theme “Charting the Course towards Resilient Prosperity.”
Antigua and Barbuda is already positioning itself to play a pivotal role in this endeavor as it has announced the launch of a SIDS Centre of Excellence.
The center will be the home to a Global Data Hub, a Technology and Innovation Mechanism, and a Davos-styled investment forum.
All three components of the Centre of Excellence provide opportunities for renewable energy investment in SIDS and for vigorous discussions on international finance and energy transition diplomacy.